GM shocked Pontiac fans in late summer of 2003 when they announced the return of the GTO. The source was the Holden Monaro from Australia, a car from down under that was well thought of by fans of high performance. It represented an excellent opportunity for GM as the car was already in production and additional development costs were minimal.
Of immediate concern to GTO fans was the styling of their new offspring. It seemed to offer a lot in common with say, a mid '90s Honda Accord.
The engine compartment has the ability to make up for the styling. Inside is a 5.7 liter V8, the same as offered in the Corvette with the LS1 designation. Power is 350 hp with 365 lb-ft torque. Standard equipment is a four speed automatic, with a six speed manual a $695.00 option. It is the same close ration unit found in the Z06 Corvette and is also the only option available; quite a departure from the 1960s when option lists were the equivalent to the phone book of a small town. Leather seats are standard but a sunroof, heated seats, a navigation system, OnStar or upgraded sound system is not available except via the aftermarket route. Power seats, Power door locks, A/C and cruise control is also standard.
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A number of Pontiac GTO traditions carry on with the latest iteration, including gobs of V8 power and sound, rear wheel drive and most important, mucho bang for your buck. At this point you might wonder why GM would offer the same engine in a car costing over $10,000 less than their flagship Corvette sports car? The answer is weight; with the new GTO tipping the scales at about 500 lbs. more than the 'vette, it is not a performance threat.
The new GTO does have two performance items that Pontiac buyers on the '60s and '70s could only dream about: awesome handling from an all independent suspension, four wheel disc brakes and great gas mileage. As the song says: "These are better days".